Hailing from Dublin’s seaside suburb of Killiney, 30-year-old Eric Gasparro is an advertising agency art director and avid cyclist. So when he’s not busy flexing his creative muscles, you’ll find him out on the road spinning his wheels.
He’s a former member of Bray Wheelers but has now turned his attention to other sports, putting existing skills to use as a triathlete with Belpark Triathlon Club. “Don’t tell me roadie friends”, he adds, but we reckon the secret might be out now!
How did you catch the cycling bug?
“When I was in secondary school, I probably put on a few too many pounds by not being active enough and making some bad choices like smoking. I decided to make a change, so I took my dad’s old Peugeot bike out of the shed, got it back to working order and began commuting the 12km each way, most days per week. The weight started to fall off me and my confidence started to go up. When I left school, I started working in a local bike shop and that only made the affliction worse. It also gave me the opportunity to buy my first proper road bike, a Specialized Allez.”
How do you find juggling your training and bike time with a full-time job? Any tips for people looking to do the same?
“It’s quite difficult actually, especially in winter when you lose the daylight. I commute a couple of days per week which is a 36km cycle in and out. One tip I have is to make the trip home longer and use it as an opportunity to do a dedicated training session. Doing the same routes every day will lead to boredom and won’t help you improve; variety is the spice of life after all!
I’ll usually change my route home by adding in some distance or hills. For example, I might go by the Wicklow Mountains if my training is scheduled for a hill session or via Howth if I’m meant to be doing a steady effort. It just allows me to make maximum use of my time. I think focusing on shorter harder spins over longer easier spins is a smart tactic if you’re short on time.”
Do you think cycling has become more popular in Ireland in recent years?
“Definitely, I think the cycle to work scheme, in particular, has made owning and using a good quality bike so much more accessible. With more people cycling there’s a knock-on effect on the amount of people who then want to get better at it and with that means club memberships and event participation has skyrocketed. I think the general trend towards being healthier and more active is a huge benefit as well.”
Is there anything you think could/should be done to make cycling even more popular?
“The roads can be really dangerous at times. We need more cycle lanes where cars aren’t allowed to drive and more education for drivers around cycling in particular. It works both ways though; there’s a lot of cyclists who don’t follow the rules of the road. We all need to take our time a bit more and watch out for one another.”
What’s your favourite cycle route in Ireland and why?
“My usual Wicklow Mountains loop; it starts from Enniskerry and goes down to Laragh, then up through the Sally Gap and back down by Cruagh. I love the mountains and living where I do means they’re always only a 30-minute spin away. I also love the spin down the Sally Gap to Manor Kilbride and home via Tallaght.”
What’s your advice for anyone considering taking up cycling as a hobby?
“Just go for it; get a good bike that will last. Cheap bikes and parts can break easily and having a bike that doesn’t work quite right will give you enough of an excuse to not go out for that spin. If you can afford it, take the full amount you can on the cycle to work scheme and get a good helmet, some lights and a solid bike. Start cycling around your local area and increase the mileage gradually.
Joining a club is a great way of making new friends and learning the ins and outs of road cycling. They’re all very welcoming and have dedicated spins for beginners.”
Fancy reading another cyclist profile? We chat to Lisa Thake of Fat Girl Fit right here.